Trust in God

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. Psalm 62: 5-7

It’s truly amazing in what we will put our trust in. In America, we have built a system where it appears we trust in government for everything. Wow. How dumb is that? We trust in political parties and politicians. We trust in gurus, assets, systems of finance, philosophy and thought. Repeatedly these things have proved to be untrustworthy.  It’s really all about God and trusting in Him. 

Where you are, there is heaven. And where you are not, there is death and hell. You alone are my desire and, therefore, I must groan and cry out earnestly for you. In short, I depend fully on you— and you alone— to help me in the necessities of life.

Watkins, James (2016-01-12). The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language (Kindle Locations 732-733). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The disciples, including Paul, lived lives of joy in the midst of persecution and prison. Modern Christians live similarly in far flung parts of the world today. Here in America, we manage to live in a hell of our own making the the middle of more wealth than most of the world can even dream about. 

We need to live and love in a world surrounded by a “God Bubble.” His love and support sustaining us and not separating us from a hurting world but enabling us to make a difference in it. We need salvation, a rock foundation and fortress. That’s only available one place: In Christ.

 

Touch in the Night

 

I was sick yesterday. I felt awful. I got some food in me late and fell asleep. Sometime during the night I felt a hand, first on my brow and then on my hand. I heard something about fever. I’m not sure if it was “You have fever.” or “You don’t have fever.” It didn’t matter because I knew in either case she had this. I then felt her crawl into bed.

I was overcome with an intense feeling of gratitude. At the same time there was a small sense of dread in the thought that there are so many who have no one to give a comforting touch in the night and the knowledge that one day I might be in that lonesome number.

I fought off those thoughts away because for now I am in the number of the blessed and for that I am deeply and eternally grateful.

 

Judge Not

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” Matthew 7: 1-2

 

Drones are getting cheaper and have become accessible to the masses.  We see more of these devices flying about. Most of them have cameras. It’s becoming more usual to see videos of familiar areas from a new perspective. The new views are fascinating as we see things in ways we never did before. It’s why we should leave judging to God. 
 
Our perspective is so limited. We see from a low angle and generally miss the overview. God never does. Not only is our view limited in the physical.  It also lacks time perspective. We see in snapshots. God sees with the past and future in view.  How dare we judge?  
 
We would not want to be judged by our perspective with its very limited view. Most of all we would not want to be viewed without the filters God has and uses. He sees things through the filter of his love and of his son’s forgiving redemptive work. I don’t want to ever be judged without the benefit of that. I think I’ll limit myself to trusting and leave the judging to God. 

Fake News is Nothing New

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 1 John 4: 1

There is nothing new about fake  news. It’s been around for thousands of years. The news stories have changed but the basis and motivations are the same. 
 
Fake news takes advantage of our desire for certain things to be true. In politics, for example, we want the worst to be true of those with whom we disagree. We light up at stories that confirm that belief. 
 
Fake news also takes advantage of our fears. We are afraid that those we respect and follow will not be all we believe they are. We reluctantly accept as true stories that confirm these fears. 
 
In spiritual matters fake news include teachings that promote cheap grace that say we can have salvation without repentance, joy without sacrifice, that believing is enough without following. We want things to be easy and there will always be those who will tell us they are. 
 
We also are subject to fears that the gospel is too good to be true. We doubt that we can be forgiven or that we can be secure in our salvation. We fall for lies that say Jesus is too good to be true or that he isn’t coming again. 
 
Fake news isn’t new and that’s just sad. Don’t fall far it. Test the spirits. 
 

Untitled

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8: 31-32

Most Christians will tell you that the “truth will set you free.” A lot fewer will recall the importance of faithfulness to the teachings of Jesus. Freedom doesn’t come in wisdom alone, but in faithfulness to what is true. It’s a matter of action. 

At the Day of Judgment, we will be not be questioned as to what we have read, but what we have done; not how well we have spoken, but how holy we have lived.

Watkins, James (2016-01-12). The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language (Kindle Locations 653-654). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yet it seems that Christians are wedded to the idea of learning and not to doing. The most “significant” part of Sunday service for most is the “teaching” or “sermon.” That teaching sometimes, but not always, contains a motivating call to action. What good is it to sit through a teaching without building up motivation to go out and do something. By Mondays, not only are the words of most Sunday sermons forgotten, but nothing has been done to further the Kingdom. Maybe our Sundays would be better spent gathering together somewhere to do acts of charity instead of dressing up and sitting in rows listening to teachings and watching the clock. 

Jesus was looking for followers, not scholars. It was important to Him that the disciples were faithful to His teachings and not just memorizers of them.  If you tell your child to go clean up her room, you don’t want her to memorize your words and speak them back to you, even if in Greek. You want her to clean her room. I suspect Jesus wants us to be busy making disciples not quoting Him about the need to make disciples. 

Let’s make a greater effort to HOLD to teachings and less to debating them. The freedom in truth is in the doing and not in the hearing. 

Just Shut U

“The very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6: 63). They are not judged by human understanding. They are not spoken to impress others, but to be heard in silence and received with all humility and deep love.

Watkins, James (2016-01-12). The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language (Kindle Locations 605-607). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

We make hearing the voice of God a tremendously difficult spiritual exercise requiring years of monastery life to master. Certainly being completely comfortable in hearing God is a lifetime experience. The first step is pretty easy: Just shut up. I guess that’s a lot easier in a monastery. 

Our failure to hear most things, including the voice of God, is founded in our failure to stop talking. I remember some years ago I was at an organizational meeting of a Kairos weekend. One of the newbies was going on and on about how he didn’t know if he would be able to talk to the inmates. I advised him to “Just shut up.” He kept on talking. I advised him again. He kept on talking. My comrades who had also done the ministry for years knew what I was saying but were a bit uncomfortable with my bluntness and his failure to get the message. Eventually he shut up and never returned to the ministry. I guess I won the battle but lost the war.

Generally we are not great listeners. We are uncomfortable with listening. When others are speaking we aren’t absorbing; we are usually planning our response. There is something that makes us think that the sound of our own voices is superior to every other noise.  We know that what we have to say is so much better and wiser than what we are hearing. 

If you want to be popular and thought to be a great and wise conversationalist, just shut up. Giving others the floor and feeding their own love of their own voices will make you a conversationalist superstar. People will tell others how they love talking to you. Why? Because you listen.

It’s really no different with God, except that what He has to say is much more important and wiser. Why do we think prayer is about us talking? Why can’t we pray quietly, listening not talking.  We, too, can be great listeners and followers of the word of GOD, if we will just SHUT UP.

Acts of Charity

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” Matthew 25: 37-40

The “righteous” ones were pleasing their Lord and didn’t even know it. You would think it shouldn’t be necessary to force folks to feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked or visit the sick or those in prison. Nevertheless, we don’t do those things. I am not sure why.

There is so much need out there that we tend to block it out. Since we can not address every problem; we decide not to address any. Charitable acts are, by their nature, selective. We sometimes say we are “called” to particular acts, and not to others. 

Successful charitable acts require discretion. We need to learn to hear and respond to the voice of God. It’s necessary to remove ourselves from the selection process. We will tend to seek acts which satisfy us either by their accomplishment or by the recognition that comes with their performance. Really charity requires the removal of self. 

Acts of charity are acts of love. 

Without love, no work is beneficial. But whatever is done in charity— no matter how small or unheralded— will bring forth good fruit. For God knows what each person is able to do rather than the greatness of what is done.

Watkins, James (2016-01-12). The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language (Kindle Locations 526-528). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

We are saved for good works. Our job is to remove ourselves, listen to God, and do as He commands, for His glory.

 

Silliness of Self-Love

But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless— like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. Ecclesiastes 2: 11

By every sign we are great lovers of self. Our checkbooks show on whom we like to spend. Look in our bath rooms at all the “personal” products. We love to talk about ourselves (Facebook) and we get a charge out of being liked (Facebook again). For most of us, we are number 1.

I am not sure that it’s really self-love. Look at how much time, effort and money we spend on improving ourselves or in making us seem better than we are. Perhaps we realize that we are not as great as we make out.

In many cases, in fact, we are our own worst enemies. Look at what we eat, how little we exercise or take care of ourselves. Consider how we fail to plan for our futures or act in our own best interests. 

Our attempts at self-love pale at the efforts of others to love us. Nothing warms us like the smile of a loving grandchild or the touch of a life-long partner. We can’t produce those feelings within ourselves. 

Know that the love of yourself is more hurtful to you than anything in the world.

Watkins, James (2016-01-12). The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language (Kindle Locations 495-496). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Probably the best test of love is the beneficial effect it has on the one loved. We benefit, not at all, from self-love. We get good feelings and often concrete benefits from the love of others. However, we are most benefited by the love of God, whose love saves us, sanctifies us, and prepares an eternal place for us. All the love we attempt to lavish on ourselves will never do that.